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Digital marketing: How to use customer data to improve personalisation

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15th Sep 2011
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Len Shneyder of IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group looks at how firms can use customer data to improve personalisation and integration in a marketing campaign. So far, Len has looked at email marketing, landing pages and social media. This week he wraps up the series.

Confession time: I didn’t go to school to become a marketer - I studied Poetry. One of the most profound quotes I read, and there’s a lot of them out there, was by Ezra Pound who said “the poem fails as it strays from the song, the song fails when it strays from the dance.” The wisdom here is about utility and the original intention behind something: “marketers fail who don’t see the complexity of their customers; marketing fails in the long run when it doesn’t present itself as a service to customers.”
Email, landing pages, social media - these are components in an end-to-end digital marketing strategy. The idea behind such lofty vocabulary doesn’t stop with the digital messaging trifecta, quite the contrary; for it to be effective takes into account platforms such as mobile, subsidiary channels such as mobile apps, call centres, direct mail, POS, and any other data source that can be crammed into a construct we call the empowered customer. Through technological advances, you can expand your digital thumbprint and improve the potency of your digital marketing. Let’s explore this customer and how a marketer with a winning total digital strategy would approach their job in the 21st century.
From dawn till dusk in the digital marketing trench
Jim’s alarm on his mobile phone goes off at 6am. He’s like 71% of Brits who use their mobile phones as alarm clocks. Jim knows he has a mobile audience and three months prior set up a campaign to be sent at 4am to a segment of his customers who responded to an questionnaire with a discount about their mobile browsing habits. He knows that right about now a dedicated set of customers is reading emails and, even if they take no action, they’ve seen a simple message with a single call to action they may click on later that day. He feels the sun peeking through his blinds and knows that today is going to be great. He’s ever the optimist!
Jim works for a top department store, which allows him to be creative across products and channels. While waiting in line for coffee he watches people skim email on their mobile phones and text their friends and colleagues. It’s Monday and he starts the week for the rest of his mobile users by sending them a coupon for coffee that’s delivered between 7:30 and 9am. It’s a cross-promotion with a brand he carries in-store. They sign people up on their Facebook page and feed the leads to Jim via SMS. Those who click on the link come to a custom landing page that urges them to Like Jim’s company’s Facebook page. SCORE! He tags them as Facebook users and stores them with an SMS and Mobile flag.
By the time Jim gets to the office he’s feeling pretty confidant knowing he’s generated sales for a partner and increased his mobile and social segment. Job one: figure out what’s been happening on Twitter during the night and over the weekend. Jim tracks sentiment across his brand, but he’s savvy enough to understand that his brand is comprised of many channels and he researches content he’s been sending out in his newsletters to see what has wound up on Twitter. He quickly realises that a small campaign with a discount on women’s accessories endorsed by Lady Gaga sent to a regional population of women in their early 20s found its way onto Twitter.
He sees tweets and retweets of the offer and begins to track the originating IPs through his web analytics system: the offer went viral and spread beyond his original target audience. He makes a mental note of the top five states from which customers visited his website and adjusts his targeting to incorporate them for a similar campaign featuring a rising star. But Jim isn’t done; he wants to take this a step further and creates a Facebook ad because of the social success. He launches it, directing traffic back to his site for a special discount, making the offer time-sensitive, a one-day-only special. He sets a reminder to check activity in four hours; if successful he’ll re-use the segment with another one-day offer the next day and then let it rest so as not to burn out these users.
Now that he’s had his third cup of coffee, he’s ready to tackle the big campaign with his team. Memorial Day is 10 days away and they are planning three special drops before the shopping frenzy of Monday. He knows people will be travelling but thinks he can rope them into shops in major travel destinations, so he crafted his first subject line to indicate a travel special and his company is virtually everywhere the customer is, even online. His target is everyone but he understands that he has a large social audience and that sending them an email and posting to a Facebook page may be overkill as there’s a tweet campaign in the works too. Jim excludes 50 percent of his social users from the email campaign as a control group and decides to let Twitter and Facebook do the work. The rest he chooses to send email and wonders if there’ll be attrition given the number of messages they will see/receive as he plans on posting five times to the company’s Facebook wall.
The first email drop will have regional segmentation based on shopping preferences and ages. He has lots of products with big discounts to promote and has been tracking buying habits across channels. He’s certain that customers with Facebook, Twitter and Email addresses will be more amicable to deeper discounts on Electronics if they’re male and he’s created a dynamic registration process that asks unique questions based on gender and age so he can filter out the gamers to receive special discounts. Likewise if they were female of a certain age he’ll send them vouchers on personal health and beauty products.
It’s all coming together for Jim and he’s feeling like the sky is the limit. It’s almost 2pm and he checks back in on his Facebook campaign. He’s generated sales but sees a few posts on his wall and in Twitter lamenting the fact that he didn’t provide a mechanism to make an in-store purchase. Jim thinks about this and decides he’ll redo the campaign in a week but on the landing page he’ll include an social sign up for a special QR code to be sent via email so that it can be scanned in the store for an additional discount in the case the customer can’t or won’t purchase online. At the same time he begins to consider what other information he can require at the time of registration for Facebook users seeking QR codes in email to make in-store purchases. He sets up time with his Database team to discuss new tables and ways of getting at the customer data. He believes he can identify ever smaller and more unique segments of customers now that he’s found correlations between purchasing behavior and messaging channel preference and delivery.
Jim flips on the radio as he rolls into 4pm and Jimmy Cliff is playing “it’s gonna be a bright sun shinny day.” Jim nods and smiles, it already has been. He’s decided he’s made enough money for his company today and leaves early. One of his colleagues tweeted he had an extra ticket for a football match and Jim was first to respond by showing up in his office.

Previous features in this series

Len Shneyder is product marketing manager at IBM Enterprise Marketing Management Group.

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